Robert Wagner (yes indeed) is Prince Valiant, son of a deposed Viking king. Sent toCamelot, Valiant has a run-in with the treacherous Black Knight, and sees him conspiring withother Vikings (the bad ones) to conquer Britain. Valiant doesn’t see the evil knight’s face. Couldhe be one of the knights of the round table? Could he possibly be the arrogant and shifty-eyedJames Mason? Hmmm. Valiant trains for knighthood under Sir Gawain (hopeless miscastSterling Hayden), but in hi… impetuousness he runs off for more adventure, and is almost killedfor his troubles. He is, however, nursed back to health by Janet Leigh, with whom he falls inlove. But Mason has designs on her…
And so it goes, in the tradition of the comic strip, with one damn thing after another befallingour hero. Say this for the film: it moves. Say this for it too: it’s very silly. Though it would havebeen perfect for young audiences in 1954, today it is probably best suited for older audienceswho remember being young in 1954.
The 2.0 stereo is pretty good for a film of this vintage. There are no distracting surroundvoices, and the music comes across quite handsomely. There are not many surround effects, butthere are a few (crashing waves and so forth), and I would prefer fewer, appropriate sound FXthan plentiful but misplaced ones. There is a very audible hum and hiss in the background,however.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen picture could do with some restoration. The print isgrainy and damaged here and there. Occasionally, the level of flicker is quite bad. The coloursare decent, but there are some very murky shots, and the blacks are nowhere near as deep as theyshould be. Most distracting are fades in and out of shots. During these moments, there aresudden, jarring shifts in the quality of the colours.
Other than a handful of trailers, there is a Movietone newsreel clip of an AFL Union Exhibitthat served as a promotional venue for the film. The menu is basic.
Good natured and juvenile, the film was never a classic of its type. The bizarre casting isworth checking out, and there is some nostalgic appeal to the whole enterprise.
Special Features List
- Movietone Newsreel